Roland Denis, a critical writer and participant in the Bolivarian process, and planning minister 2002 – 2003, gives his opinion on the public letter written by recently dismissed government minister Jorge Giordani. He argues that Giordani’s criticisms of Nicolas Maduro’s leadership do not touch upon what Denis sees as the greater problems and challenges for the Bolivarian project. Translation by VA.com.
It’s surprising that Jorge Giordani published this letter as if it were a report of accountability due upon leaving his post as planning minister, which he served at for 12 years. All we have are questions upon reviewing the document about a breaking point, as told by someone who for too many years was the key designer of the government’s strategic vision and policies.
I understand that our friend Giordani needed to make known his privileged observations which essentially portray the evident differences between the governments of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, to the abysmal detriment of the latter. But what is it that he wanted to say, this man of the purest and oldest left wing, the freest and therefore the most radical, according to Saramago and himself?
The problem we’ve been experiencing over the years, exacerbated since the terrible evolution and tragic outcome of Chavez’s illness, is that we possess a cowardliness to confront those aggressors which profoundly weaken the revolutionary process; there is a fear of contradicting the criteria of Chavez. Instead of arming ourselves with the reasoning that every revolution obliges, and challenging the opportunists who were rising in power, we allowed them to grow strong enough to become the central force to be reckoned with. That reckoning means engaging in a publicity stunt; while everything appears polarized from the outside, a privileged few are negotiating internally to decide who will represent power for power’s sake, which is the death of all revolutions. This tacit complicity with the counter-revolutionary enemy can be understood in three fundamental points;
1) The blocking of the socialist revolutionary process by a model that tends to strengthen bureaucracy, corporatism and state capitalism.
2) The moral decline of a large part, perhaps the majority, of the revolutionary government, stemming from the formation of a new bourgeoisie which little by little is taking control of the basic strings of government.
3) The increasing appearance of an imposed autocracy within political chavista spaces (PSUV, the Patriotic Pole [GPP]), as a consequence of the above mentioned reasons, and also due to the decrease in the autonomy of peoples’ power and even the right to a critical position within the process.
These circumstances generate conditions that could halt the revolution as a promoter of the working class, and as an example in the global revolutionary context of an attempt to construct an alternative and autonomous society. Mr. Giordani knows the following well because he acted as one of its principle designers; little by little the Venezuelan model became trapped within a governmental elite circle which no longer questions its own strategy or success as a revolution, only its capacity to maintain itself in power. The notorious incapacity of the opposition and the proficiency with which this leadership elite enveloped the chavista grassroots in its interests through state clientalism have allowed them to effectively maintain themselves in power without a doubt.
However this has been done at the cost of the loss of fundamental revolutionary goals day by day: the concrete exercise of people’s power; the expropriation of large parasitic capital; socializing redistribution of oil income under social control; establishing a government policy destined toward the progressive winning of national, technological, and food sovereignty; the multiple creation of spaces of full collective self government with self-sufficient production; the creation of the political and economic conditions for the expansion of the revolutionary project in the continental sphere, and the consolidation of these steps through the full exercise of collective participation in the creation of the law, etc.
The defensive exercises of the government have ultimately led to the embezzlement of state resources by a part of that elite, allied with bankers and oligarchs, the parasitic growth of the rentier state, and the absence of a self-sustaining socialist model of development which would allow us to open routes to another society.
Regardless of the collapse of national production, the government has made prideful speeches recounting the resources and subsidies provided by the state, including housing, gasoline, electricity, and food. In one way or another, whether it was Giordani or Maduro or any other presenter, the numbers they display do not represent the balance of our success, the product of our collective efforts, our capacity to manage and defend our revolution, or the steps we’ve taken toward new social and educational spaces regarding health, culture, reoccupied land and sustainable production, or our well-tested skills at confronting imperialist offenses. What’s important is how many mercals (subsidized food staples) were sold, how much resources were handed out in what’s called the “street government” and however many missions exist, with their perennial reorganizations, which guarantee votes for the next election. How sad that Mr. Giordani not only didn’t mention this but was part of it, no matter his disagreements with Nicolas Maduro.
Giordani’s accountability report does not touch upon the issues that lie at the heart of the matter. He does not want to mention the failure of how his currency control plan ended up doing the exact opposite of what was intended. He doesn’t want to talk about corruption! He doesn’t explain why they threw out the plan meant to transform the state and the public participation system designed early on when I worked alongside minister Felipe Perez in the planning ministry. Why have the social missions, whose design was modeled as part of a revolutionary state parallel to the preexisting bourgeois and bureaucratic one, ended up being totally tied to the old state?
It’s very interesting to see how a key minister such as Giordani has been shrugging off the weight of his duties, compressing them into an issue of misunderstanding with the new president and the chaos this past year has brought to public administration, including the error of wishing to replace Chavez with the same blueprint for leadership when the man in question can hardly fill his shoes. What happened with the China Fund and the money stolen there? Giordani knows about it, but doesn’t say. Why not, if the guilty party made up part of the same cabinet as him, and remains there, while others were thrown out the window just for referring to this terrible case of high level corruption? I refer to people as high up as him, like Aime Benacourt [a former president of the Central Bank].
He talks about the change from Stime to Sicad [auxiliary currency exchange systems] and of his pain because they didn’t give him enough personal power over Cadivi [the previous principal currency exchange system]. So is it just a problem of misunderstanding, or is it that neither Giordani or Maduro , nor anyone in the government wants to say the truth about the embezzlement that happened and keeps happening with Sicad I from the point of view of a continued embezzlement of the nation? Why doesn’t he explain the reasons why the productive plan to transform the state model was replaced with the emission of inorganic currency that today brings inflation and shortages of such a level that an increase to poverty and extreme poverty once again appears, [in addition to] the de-valuing of the salary and the ever more evident failure of the minimum plan of social justice?
Of course [these were] statistics that appeared to be points of pride from his stupendous planning for years. Thanks brother but never again, because if there’s something that any revolution needs it’s people whose smallest fear is the loss of their spaces of power, and whose greatest worry is that in some moment the revolution is substituted by a fight among leadership elites to take the most important thing in the state: which in our case is oil income. It’s something that’s confirmed by many of us that have lived and made this process since its rebellious beginning.
Giordani is definitely part of a leadership in conflict with itself. Inside the planning ministry, his authoritarian personality prevented him from creating and conserving the elements of solidarity and collective work that were being created on the inside and with which we could do a lot in the moments when the government was falling [in 2002 – 2003]. The typical internal government of the arrogant petty bourgeoisie was created, one that looks down on collective intelligence and working as part of a team. Our friend [Giordani] is without doubt a typical example of the moral and political bankruptcy of a state leadership that knows very well the mess it’s currently in. However, he doesn’t want to fully assume this because he’s part of the situation, although he tries to appear less involved in corruption, even though he let it all happen.
They [the government] are incapable of being sincere, of assuming and creating the perfectly possible conditions for a complete renovation of the revolutionary process, a job that in the right moment will be down to the revolutionary grassroots. This is part of the unsaid lines in his accountability report: what a bureaucracy couldn’t do because it ended up being an obstacle, a repressive machinery, rather than a revolutionary instrument. The people in struggle will have to do it [renovate the revolutionary process], and if they don’t convince themselves to, then be sure that the revolution will arrive at its end.
Giordani probably says true things about the leadership of the state, and in particular about the final days of Chavez’s life, which are very serious for Maduro’s government. The set of documents prepared by Giordani’s team and not taken on board by the new leadership during those days will have to be studied. And we know that things aren’t left there, because there are huge lakes [of information about] those days, and the least that has been done is to clarify them, as these are days or even months when the shameless increase in the embezzlement of national funds was produced. However as a bankrupt leader [Giordani], he doesn’t fully assume the consequences of anything, wanting to attribute it all on the failure of Maduro’s government and above all Maduro’s lack of leadership. [Giordani’s arguments] are half truths that will create stinging pain and scars on the inside of the government, but in the end don’t say the fundamental truth, with the objective of the letter being to exonerate himself from all responsibility when he doesn’t have any excuse to do so. These are facts that demonstrate to what point not only criticism, but the truth itself has been criminalised, and this will continue happening as long as the chavista grassroots continues resigned to the command of the created autocracy.
In any case, Giordani’s loyalty will be to himself. He is from a generation of the left in which he was only a witness from the sidelines between his professional duties, and he ended up completely stuck inside statist and bureaucratic paradigms of the old school of Cendes [the Central University of Venezuela’s Centre of Development Studies] and the economics faculty of the UCV. [This school of thought] was created in the seventies and never managed to overcome the universal ideological and political defeat that 20th century socialism left behind. It’s a shame that Giordani, who was a pupil of those teachers to the end, didn’t understand this [ideology’s] strict limits in globalised capitalism, where these theories come to their functional end. With all the good will that may have existed for his part, he has been a terrible pupil of his own teacher, Mezaros, for whom the metabolic system of capitalism can only be transformed by the strength and intelligence of what guarantees it: the working class at the points of capital’s reproduction. Giordani scorned these teachings, and here are the results. He doesn’t want to assume any responsibility for this. That’s fine, but in any case, far beyond this, he is to be thanked for opening the way to a new time where truths will have to be spoken and events will finally be arranged in favor of our people and their revolution.
This article was translated by VA.com and is slightly abridged from the original.